What Ugly Secrets Nobody Ever Wants to Tell You About Partnership

partnership-smallA partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. Teamwork.

Before you get married rarely will anyone tell you how marriage can be and that you will have your ups and downs. They never really explain that marriage is something you always have to work at. When you decide to go into business with someone and become true partners, nobody really ever explains to you that partnership is just like a marriage and all of the above apply plus more! What happens then when one of your business partners is also your husband? Boom! It’s a double whammy! Now you have to learn to communicate in life and in business? You have to differentiate a business disagreement vs a personal one. Well, I have been in business with my husband for almost 30 years, and yes we are still married believe it or not and managed to raise 4 amazing children. I will tell you it isn’t easy and we still have to work on it every single day. You go days sometimes without speaking and when you do nasty things come out of your mouths, and taking it home sometimes is inevitable. How do you get back to a good place? You need to reaffirm what you are both trying to accomplish and have little meetings frequently during the year. Also, a date night every week where you never bring up business has always really helped us to regroup.

There are all different types of partnership. But no matter what type of partnership you have created a successful partnership takes significant effort and a tremendous desire to make it work. It can only happen if you have the same mission and end goal in mind. Along with mutual admiration and respect. A common goal is what drives the partnership, especially in tough times. Ours was to be here for our kids and have a flexible schedule, live in a nice house and send them to good schools. So here we are 30 years later. Just to make life more interesting I also have a woman business partner in a secondary business, who I refer to as my work wife. Yes, it is just like having a spouse. You yell, sometimes cry, nasty things come out of your mouths, you will want to quit on occasion, but the good news is you don’t have to go home together every night. The extra time apart does help when needed. Taking a break is healthy.

It doesn’t matter what type of partnership you have, you will always have to work at it. The biggest issue you could ever have is incompatible objectives. A business can flourish if you and your partner agree to lock arms and work at a common goal. Once the relationship becomes one-sided and one starts making moves without consulting the other in the business you both share, it can no longer work. But I promise at the end of the day if you agree to disagree and come back to a common ground and stay in sync, it can be very rewarding. Remember both parties have to want to.

A successful partnership must have these 11 Key ingredients: 

  1. Clearly identify your strengths and weaknesses  Do what you do best and let them do what they do best, that way you aren’t resentful and you never hold it against one another for what they aren’t great at and vice versa. Have open conversations about it in advance.
  2. Define your rolesEach of you should have specific roles and you should stick to yours and they should stick to theirs. It is o.k. if they change as you grow!
  3. Have the same end goal definedOnce you aren’t on the same page when you define your goals and then someone decides to go in another direction you need to either get back to where you both were or you both agree to be and get back to going in the same direction like you agreed to in the beginning or it will never work.
  4. Nobody likes surprises Talk about what you are going to do before you do it when it comes to the business you both share. Unless you agreed one would make decisions on their own it should never happen. A 50/50 partnership means everything is discussed before it is presented no exceptions.
  5. Put things in writingAnything can happen. People change, goals change, things happen. It is better for both parties when everything is written down so it makes it easier while you are running the business or if you both decide to dissolve it.
  6. Support one another When you don’t support one another people will since it and whatever you are trying to create together will ultimately suffer. Be a cheerleader for one another!
  7. Don’t sweep issues under the rugThis happens in many relationships. This is especially hard for me because I don’t like wasting time arguing, but not discussing it will result in bad feelings that fester. Make sure you talk about it and if it hurts the relationship you have to come to an agreement before you can move forward. If one feels like it is wrong and the other doesn’t and continues on that path the underlying reason is probably they don’t want to continue to work together, you need to find that out sooner than later.
  8. Appreciate one another Remember you started the business together. It doesn’t matter what your area of expertise is, both of you are equally as important and each should show be grateful for the other. Decisions should always be made together and until you both agree no actions should be taken.
  9. Work as a unified team The team effect is priceless. You’ve heard the term teamwork makes the dream work right? That is what a true partnership is, 2 people working towards a common goal.
  10. Never put your partner down in front of other peopleMy husband will blurt something out at me when we are in the conference room working with our team and I have o remind him we aren’t home and it’s not o.k. It is never o.k. when a dad and mom disagree on parenting issues right in front of the children is it? well partners, Just like parents, have to show unity in front of their team even if they don’t agree. You always have to show unity if you want anyone to follow you. It is never o.k. to talk down to or disagree with your partner in front of anyone. Regardless of how you feel at the time.
  11.  You have to have trustYou have to know your partner has your back and they have to know you have theirs. You have to find someone who has skills and values that complement yours and they have to feel that way about you. This is the foundation of a true partnership. If one has more interest in themselves then the partnership or the business, it is not going to be a successful business in the end and you are spinning your wheels.


Business is a long and winding road, lots of ups and down and winding turns. When you find the right partner you can ultimately create something of real value and meaning together while also creating a deep bond and connection. Problems in your business can escalate to problems in your relationship but you have to try to differentiate your personal feelings and your business decisions. There is no right or wrong way to run your partnership because everyone is unique. I do believe these 11 things are key to a successful partnership and if you have these things in your foundation it truly can be a successful partnership and relationship that will result in a rewarding business. Just remember to always work at it as long as you both decide that you want to continue to grow your venture together.

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